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100 of 106 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing candor, charming humor, and the guts to tell the story!
It is hard to decide where to start this review. I am a Mormon. I joined the Church at age 30, almost 45 years ago. I have lived in the Mormon Singles life then, when I joined, and then after my wife died following 35 years of marriage, I entered the scene again as a seventy-something adult. I know something about the scene Elna Baker paints, and it is so true to life it...
Published on September 4, 2009 by David H. Birley

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33 of 40 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Elna, Get Over Yourself
I really liked parts of this book. We can all relate to weight problems, boy problems and feelings of inadequacy. By the end of the book, however, I was thoroughly annoyed at Elna's self-absorption. Her dad apparently has a very lucrative position at Boeing that has allowed him to take his family all over the world for work and vacations, and you'd think Elna would...
Published on April 3, 2011 by Janet Lee Wolfson


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100 of 106 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing candor, charming humor, and the guts to tell the story!, September 4, 2009
By 
David H. Birley (Rock Hill, SC USA) - See all my reviews
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It is hard to decide where to start this review. I am a Mormon. I joined the Church at age 30, almost 45 years ago. I have lived in the Mormon Singles life then, when I joined, and then after my wife died following 35 years of marriage, I entered the scene again as a seventy-something adult. I know something about the scene Elna Baker paints, and it is so true to life it almost hurts. If you doubt that, take a look at Unfinished Business which tells about a twenty-something new widow entering the singles scene of the Church.

Mormon literature has a tendency to be very self-conscious. In-group terms are carefully avoided either "because non-members wouldn't understand them", or because of a desire not to offend folks not of our faith. Elna not only resists the temptation to fit either of those molds, she writes a memoir that is so candid, so complete, that some of the TBMs (True Blue Mormons) among us might not wish to read the book, or even admit that it exists. Still other TBMs might feel that Sister Baker should be kicked out of the Church. Let me assure you, that is a decision that would only take place between her and her Bishop -- and my guess is that isn't on any nearby horizon.

So, if you are a Mormon, caught by that word appearing in the title of the book, my recommendation? Get it and read it. If you are a TBM, and worried about the Satanic influences of the world corrupting our youth? Get it, read it, and have your eyes opened. If you are not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Just get it, read it, and learn a vast amount of the real truth about what real Mormons are like, and how they think.

Elna's journey from upbringing in the most conservative and structured environment to becoming an actress and standup commedienne in New York. Her journey through her first kiss at age 22, to still being a virgin by choice at age 26, and her discovery of love, of life, and of the personal God that truly answered prayers for her is utterly enchanting.
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mormon or not get this book!!, August 28, 2009
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Meg "Livin la vida loca in Maine!" (Presque Isle, ME, United States) - See all my reviews
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After reading the product description, I felt that this book would be a typical chick lit read about a quirky Mormon girl who goes through a bunch of bad dates and finally finds the one. It was absolutely not that! And you know what? That's a very good thing! What this is, is a memoir of a Mormon girl who has grown up in the church, trying to reconcile her relationship with God, and her search for a man. Through the book we see Elna (not Eliza, Elena - Elna!) grow up into a woman of the world who has one foot firmly planted in her Mormon faith. I absolutely adored this book, and now feel like I know Elna (not in a weird stalkerish kind of way) but in a way where I understand what she is going through in her quest. The best part of this book is that it's funny and tongue in cheek, but wise at the same time. Would definitely rate it one of my top books of the year!!
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best memoirs I've read in the last few years!, September 13, 2009
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The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance is a fantastic example of why I love memoirs! It has everything you would want in an entertaining memoir, things such as hilarious work stories (my favorite part of the book Babies Buying Babies), to relationship problems, to questioning one's faith, to major weight lose. Elna Baker covers a lot of ground for someone so young.

Elna is a Mormon and it was really interesting to learn more about Mormons and also how it played a part in Elna's life. She's constantly challenging her religion and I thought that was a really honest depiction of religion.

This is probably one of the best memoirs I have read in the last few years, when I saw it and I read the title I knew this author would have a great sense of humor and she definitely did. I was also glad that there were serious parts to her story as well, that she could jump back and forth from something hilarious to something heartbreaking shows just how much talent she has.

I really can't put into words how much I liked this so you are just going to have to trust me. I found Elna pretty likable and very talented and definitely hope she continues writing!
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33 of 40 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Elna, Get Over Yourself, April 3, 2011
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This review is from: The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance: A Memoir (Hardcover)
I really liked parts of this book. We can all relate to weight problems, boy problems and feelings of inadequacy. By the end of the book, however, I was thoroughly annoyed at Elna's self-absorption. Her dad apparently has a very lucrative position at Boeing that has allowed him to take his family all over the world for work and vacations, and you'd think Elna would realize how fortunate she is, but she doesn't. To have to listen to Elna whine on her all-expenses-paid trip to Greece was a little much. Her parents paid her way through NYU, supported her when she was jobless and even paid for her breast implants and tummy tuck. Even when Elna got her first advance, instead of investing in her future or paying her parents back, she hauls off to Africa with a couple of friends chasing after an ex boyfriend. By the end, I wanted to smack Elna and say "So your sister is prettier than you! So what? So Matt has moved on. So what? Grow up and deal with life like the rest of us have to." Maybe Elna will grow up some day, maybe not, but I'm not really interested in anything else she has to say.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's lonely being a Mormon in New York, September 18, 2009
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Elna Baker dishes the quintessential coming of age (sort of) story of a Mormon girl outside of Utah. Elna Baker had never lived in Utah, a fact that she claims with great pride. With an unerring eye for the qualities of Mormonism that allows its followers the claim of being "peculiar people" and a genuine love for the church Baker describes her years living in New York following high school. Armed with an upbringing that was loving and a bit unconventional, Baker arrives in New York armed with a belief in her upbringing and a pure belief that righteous actions equal reward. Unfortunately, not everyone else is privy to the same beliefs. Add the fact that she is what we Mormons sometimes call a "sweet spirit (a big girl). She finds her search for self and the person that can appreciate and love that self a bit more complicated and pitfall prone than expected. No matter which way she turns, she is bound to upset or worry someone. Her weight loss opens doors, but once she enters she is faced with choices. The discovery that the man she falls in love with is an atheist turns her world on its ear and her attempts to awaken a spiritual connection within him are hilarious and bittersweet. Elna's own attempts to turn away from beliefs long held and cherished have equally mixed results. She has to stand on her own.

I wish there had been an Elna Baker when I left the nest over thirty years ago. The discovery that the world is complex, much more than ever imagined, and that the recital of beliefs does not protect the individual from having to make judgments and choices that were never discussed in Young women's classes was daunting. Baker's description of the gift of Fascinating Girl brought back memories of receiving that same book for my high school graduation, and my own attempts to follow what I learned in its pages(didn't last very long, it was the 70's), as well as my eventual discovery that I had so much more to offer on my own. Elna Baker is a welcomed new voice. It is a disservice to confine her to being just a Mormon writer, her voice is so filled with humor, compassion and self searching that this could be anyone finding their way in a new situation. The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance is the story of a young woman finding her own way, and it was a privilege for me to tag along.
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28 of 34 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Will not read another thing by this author, March 25, 2011
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This review is from: The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance: A Memoir (Hardcover)
I did not enjoy this book. I found the author to be unapologetically hypocritical and completely blinded to that fact. The multiple descriptions of her kissing conquests reminded me of a book more suited for the Judy Blume sect. I found it surprising that she was completely unaware how hypocritical she was in regards to her faith---of which I have none, but can distinguish when someone uses it to their advantage. For instance, yes she has kept her virginity but at the same time continues to seek out encounters that belie her religion's clearly stated rules again and again and again. Proudly at that!

I did try and give this book the old college try. But after the descriptive chapters of how she is taught via her religion at a very early age to respect the body and do good with it which she translates as taking speed and then getting breast implants I couldn't take it anymore (all on her parent's dime.) I would have laughed had I not been so annoyed that this woman is out there with a smile on her face, a check in her pocket, and a righteous belief that she's contributing to society with this book. This "memoir" is a waste of time. It's all been said--- and by much more talented writers than Ms. Baker.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars memoirs are self-indulgent in nature,, July 23, 2012
but this was extreme. The more I think about the book, the more I am convinced that Elna was/is trying way too hard to figure out who she is and "serving two masters" to do so. She describes many times feeling "peace" after praying and then she continues to search for her version of MORE by dieting with amphetamines and kissing every man who seems interested in her. She ends her "memoir" in a pseudo-enlightenment that feels very far away from peaceful. And, for the record, her tidbit on Mormons and lingerie is dead wrong.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I am Amber Cunningham, October 22, 2009
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Cate (New York, NY) - See all my reviews
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I'm not really, but trust me, I know her, and pretty much everybody in this book, or at least I know people just like them. I'm a New York Mormon myself, and Elna Baker's memoir about being a Mormon in New York hits everything right on the head. This series of essays that, taken together, read with all the texture and depth of a novel. They talk about what happens when you opt for NYU over BYU, over what happens when you meet the love of your life but he's not Mormon and never will be, about finding the perfect Mormon guy only to have your New York friends (who ought to know, after all) say, "But he's gay, isn't he?" and are drop dead funny -- and in my case, anyway, strike such a chord of recognition sometimes I'm not sure whether I'm laughing or crying. Honest, entertaining, believable, this is the book I'm going to give to all my friends for Christmas.

Oh, and Elna -- I'll see you at the dance on Saturday!
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I Hope There's a Sequel...., September 17, 2009
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"The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance" really is as "hilarious, moving, and life-affirming" as Liz Tuccillo's blurb on the back cover suggests, and although all faiths and religions have their moments of being quite funny when you really think about it, "hilarious" isn't exactly the first word that springs to mind when you think "Mormon." Elna Baker definitely capitalizes on this as she tells her story of walking the line of being true to what's in her own soul and being true to her faith.

This memoir features a rich cast of characters, from Elna herself, to her siblings, her hilarious parents, the men in her life, friends from work, the villain girl from the Mormon Temple, and New York City, where Elna has spent her adult life. It's obvious she comes from a very loving family, and she's a lovable person, but there is always an undertone that nobody really understands Elna, possibly not even Elna herself. She doesn't wallow in self-pity over it, though. If anything, she tries to be her own rodeo clown, trying to distract a bullishly bad situation by becoming wacky, before she gets stepped on. And although she goes for the laugh, I was really taken aback at how tangible the struggle is between the two absolute worlds Elna tries to inhabit at the same time. It's a battle between what Elna wants and what Elna thinks she's supposed to want. For instance, although Elna wants to marry a Mormon man and stay true to her faith, she also wants to act and write and wear sleeveless dresses and live in New York City, foregoing attending college at Latter-Day stalwart BYU to attend NYU, a place decidedly not Mormon. She doesn't fit into the (at least in pop culture) typical Mormon woman, who marries young, has a big family, stays at home with the kids while her husband works. ("The men go out to gather the worms, and the women stay home to raise the chicks," as Nikki Grant from "Big Love" has explained.) More than once in this book, Elna's desire to have both things, work and family, clash extraordinarily.

There are also times when Elna is defensive about her faith and the tenets of her faith, the no drinking, no sex, no revealing clothing, no drugs. Of course she would be defensive, though, when she belongs to something so apart from what is in her mainstream in New York, something that a lot of people have formed strong opinions on without the benefit of having the facts. So throughout the book, Elna attempts (and does well, in my opinion) to explain the things about her religion that are often misconceived or are just not widely-known. Usually this is done in kind of a shouted manner, after some episode in Elna's life has gone wrong or someone has said something pretty insensitive. And while she definitely shows her experience with the Church of Latter-Day Saints in a warts-and-all fashion, she definitely also shows how quick to come to another church member's aid they are.

I the saddest thing about this book, funny though it is, on the whole, is that there's this feeling that Elna's going to have to either go all-out Mormon or not be Mormon at all, and after you read the book, or if you know anything about the faith and their beliefs of the afterlife, you'll understand why that's such a heart-rending thing. If she falls in love and chooses to be with someone not part of her fate, she sacrifices her place in eternity with her family, and even her place in the here-and-now, when her family does things in the Temple. But if she seeks out a Mormon man to marry because that's what she's supposed to do, she might not be as happy in the here and now as she might otherwise be, and what's the sense of being with someone forever in the Celestial Kingdom if you're not really that wild about them here? Why can't there be a middle ground?

So not to give away the ending of the book, I hope Elna writes a sequel someday, to let us know how things turned out after she sent the final chapter of this book to her publisher. Like a good storyteller, like a good comic, she leaves her audience wanting more!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious., October 19, 2009
By 
Lois Lain (San Francisco Bay Area, CA) - See all my reviews
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Elna Baker is my new best friend. It doesn't matter that we haven't met yet -- I feel like I know her from her hilarious memoir, "The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance." With refreshing honesty, humor, and self-examination, Elna tells what it's like to be born a Mormon with doubts.

Her trouble, she'll be the first to admit, is that she thinks too much. Whether it's about her faith (asking God over and over for signs to get her through one more year in the Big Apple while retaining her virginity) or about making out in public with "Warren Beattie," an older movie star who turns out to be a little more hands-on than she had planned, Elna shares the trials and tribulations of a twenty-something woman in New York, seen through the lens of her decidedly Republican faith.

She gets dumped for being too religious, then dumped again for not being religious enough. She loses 100 lbs., has plastic surgery, travels to Africa, and works on the Letterman show. And she shares the process the whole way.

Simply one of the funniest books I've read in a long time.
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The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance: A Memoir
The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance: A Memoir by Elna Baker (Hardcover - October 15, 2009)
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